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Editorial . . .

           nitial	reports	on	sowing	in	the	ongoing	Rabi	season	show	a	  cent	less	than	the	area	covered	in	the	corresponding	period	last
           sharp  rise  in  the  area  under  pulses,  reflecting  a  substantial   year. The shortfall is mainly in wheat sowing – 156.8 lakh hectares,
        Iincrease	in	the	Minimum	Support	Prices	(MSP)	for	these	crops;	  compared  to  last  year’s  corresponding  figure  of  169.57  lakh
        but	the	oilseeds	area	has	not	picked	up,	despite	a	reasonable	hike	  hectares.	The	shortfall	is	attributed	to	low	soil	moisture	and	higher
        in	their	support	prices.	The	total	area	under	Rabi	planting	stands	  than	 normal	 temperatures	 that	 prevailed	 in	 the	 initial	 period.
        close	to	normal,	although	the	area	under	wheat	is	down	by	7.5	  There is a dip in the acreage under oilseeds, at 63.41 lakh hectares,
        percent	compared	to	last	year.                                           a	drop	of	nearly	7	per	cent	from	last	year’s
           In a bid to give a fillip to cultivation of                           68.15 lakh hectares. On the other hand, the
        pulses	 and	 oilseeds,	 the	 government	 has	                            acreage	 under	 pulses	 and	 rice,	 particularly
        been	 announcing	 for	 the	 last	 two	 years	 a	                         rice,	 has	 shown	 a	 marked	 increase.	 While
        bonus	built	into	the	support	prices.	This	time	                          pulses area has gone up by 6.46 per cent,  rice
        the bonus for these crops has been fixed at                              area	has	gone	up	by	a	good		35	per	cent	----
        Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 a quintal. Accordingly, the                           10.56 lakh hectares compared to last year’s
        MSP of gram for 2017-18 marketing season                                 7.83 lakh hectares. Alongside, coarse cereals
        is    Rs.  4,400,  including  a  bonus  of  Rs.  150                     also	show	an	increase	in	area	of	4	per	cent,
        a  quintal.  Similarly  a  bonus  of  Rs.  100  has                      compared	to	last	year.
        been	 provided	 for	 rapeseed	 /	 mustard,	                                Meanwhile,	all	is	not	well	on	the	cotton
        safflower  and  Masur.  Taking  the  bonus                               front,	 what	 with	 bollworm	 infestation
        into	 consideration,	 the	 MSP	 for	 rapeseed/                           causing havoc in fields in some regions like
        mustard is Rs. 4000 per quintal (last year –                             Vidharbha	and	Marathwada	in	Maharashtra,
        Rs. 3700),  for  safflower Rs. 4,100 per quintal                         a	major	cotton	growing	state.	The	infestation
        (last year Rs. 3700)  and for Masur Rs. 4250 a                           is found even in fields growing genetically
        quintal (last year Rs 3950).                                             modified Bt cotton  that is supposed to have
           No	bonus	has	been	announced	for	wheat	                                in-built	resistance	to	the	pest.
        and	barley.	The	MSP	for	wheat	is	Rs.	1735	a	                               Thanks	 to	 increase	 in	 the	 area	 under
        quintal – an increase of Rs 110. For barley,                             cotton	this	year	in	the	country,	industry	had
        the support price is Rs. 1410 a quintal,  as against  Rs. 1325 last   estimated a record output of 40 million bales in the 2017-18 season
        year.                                                   that started on October 1. However, as harvesting began, farmers
           The	 hike	 in	 support	 prices	 was	 approved	 by	 the	 Cabinet	  in  these  regions  found  that  the  fields  were  infested  with  pink
        Committee	 on	 Economic	 Affairs,	 chaired	 by	 Prime	 Minister	  bollworm  eating away the fibre as well as the seed. In Haryana
        Narendra Modi. Officials said the new support prices are in line   also there were reports of whitefly attacks in fields where farmers
        with	 the	 recommendations	 of	 the	 Commission	 for	 Agricultural	  went	 in	 for	 late	 sowing	 of	 cotton.	 These	 developments	 have
        Costs	and	Prices	(CACP).                                led the industry to lower its overall production estimate by 2.5
           Rabi	sowing	is	now	in	progress	in	full	steam,	and	according	to	  million	bales,	at	37.5	million	bales.	This	would	adversely	affect	the
        data	provided	by	the	Union	Agriculture	Ministry	till	November	  quantum cotton exports from the country as well.
        end, the total area sown was 390 lakh hectares, which is 1.5 per

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        december 2017                                      SAArc                                                   5
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